I have never liked roller coasters. If I had my choice (and yes, I'm admitting this out loud), I would choose Disneyland's "It's a Small World" over "Space Mountain." I much prefer smooth sailing to the nauseating drops that lift your stomach and potentially its contents up and out of your mouth. These drops, however, that plunge into the depths of the land of Disney are no match for the depths of despair one can feel when going through a divorce.
So why would I sign on the dotted line for the roller coaster ride of divorce, when I would never willingly get in line for an E-ticket ride? (For younger peeps that does not mean electronic ride!). But, I did, and there I was, face to face with the realization that I was to be a statistic.
Hi, I'm Nancy, and I'm divorced. This wasn't the type of personal branding I had envisioned. I truly wanted to grow old and have a big 50th wedding anniversary holding hands with the same person I knew in my twenties. The screenplay of my life was not following the script I had written in my mind.
Yogi Berra said, "It ain't over 'til it's over." When asked what he would want written on his tombstone when he dies, he said simply, "It's Over."
So how do we know when to write, "It's Over" on the tombstone of a relationship? For me, it was when we were sitting in our (third) therapist's office after 19 years of marriage and my husband said he didn't love me enough to try and make the changes necessary. Ouch. The tombstone had hit me over the head.
Blackout. End of final scene Act 1. End of marriage.
After all went black, I was able to see the light. We can love someone, but not be willing or able to do what's necessary to make things work. It hurts. It's frustrating. It's a fact.
I propose that we look at marriage like we should look at healthcare: taking a preventative approach, as opposed to waiting until something is wrong!
For starters, (while there are no guarantees) consider the following:
1) Know yourself really well, and know what you need and want from a partner, including how you need to be shown love, before becoming involved in a relationship.
2) Communicate the above in the very beginning so if they won't or can't provide those things, you don't find out 19 years later.
3) Have clear boundary lines and respect your partner's as well.
4) Discover how your partner needs to be shown love, and show them!
5) Show love, appreciation and respect for one another!
If it is already too late for preventative care, and you're considering pulling the plug, ask yourself this:
1) Can you live with things the way they are?
2) What is your role in the issues, and are you willing/able to do what's necessary to keep the relationship alive?
3) Are they willing and/or able to take responsibility for their part and make the necessary changes?
If for whatever reason things aren't going to change, then it seems there are two options: either you accept things as they are and live with them, or you don't and you move on.
Life is a combination of Adventureland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. We experience many adventures, some fantasies, and tomorrow is always a mystery. The ups and downs and unknown turns can be both scary and exciting, and when a marriage needs to end, it's normal to be afraid of where the ride will take us. But, as in Disneyland, we need to trust that if we hop on, buckle up, and keep our hands inside the vehicle, everyone will land safely.